Israeli security personnel work at the scene of a ramming attack in Tel Aviv, Israel July 4, 2023. Image Credit: Reuters

TEL AVIV: A motorist caused injuries to six people in a ramming in Tel Aviv on Tuesday after carrying out a suspected stabbing attack, an Israeli police spokesperson said, calling the incident terrorism.

The motorist was “neutralised” at the scene by a civilian first-responder, the spokesperson told Israel’s Army Radio.

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Khaled Al Batsh, a senior official from the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad movement praised the attack as “an initial and natural response of the resistance towards what is happening in Jenin” although he stopped short of claiming responsibility.

Video circulated online showed a pick-up truck that had mounted a pavement near a mall and jutted into a bicycle path.

A spokesperson for the Magen David Adom ambulance service said some of those injured had knife wounds.

The Hamas militant group praised the attack as “heroic and revenge for the military operation in Jenin.”

Israeli media identified the attacker as Hasin Halila, 23, a Palestinian man from a village near the West Bank city of Hebron.

Hunt for militants

The attack came as Israeli troops pressed ahead with their hunt for Palestinian militants and weapons in a West Bank refugee camp, after military bulldozers tore through alleys and thousands of residents fled to safety. The two-day Palestinian death toll rose to 10.

The large-scale raid of the Jenin camp, which began Monday, is one of the most intense military operations in the occupied West Bank in nearly two decades.

It bore hallmarks of Israeli military tactics during the second Palestinian uprising in the early 2000s and came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces growing pressure from his ultranationalist political allies for a tough response to recent attacks on Israeli settlers, including a shooting last month that killed four people.

Earlier in the day, rubble littered the streets of Jenin and there were reports of damage to shops. Columns of black smoke periodically punctuated the skyline over the camp in the northern West Bank city, long a Palestinian militant stronghold.

Jenin Mayor Nidal Al Obeidi said that around 4,000 Palestinians had fled the Jenin refugee camp, finding accommodation in the homes of relatives and in shelters. Residents said there was no water or electricity in the camp.

Across the West Bank, Palestinians observed a general strike to protest the Israeli raid.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Health Ministry said on Tuesday that the two-day death toll rose to 10, with two more deaths reported overnight. The Israeli military has claimed all were militants, but did not provide details.

During Tuesday’s operations, the military said it had seized weapons and demolished tunnels beneath a mosque in the Jenin refugee camp.

50 attacks from Jenin

A spokesman for the Israeli military, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said Monday that Israel had launched the operation because some 50 attacks over the past year had emanated from Jenin.

The Jenin camp and an adjacent town of the same name have been a flashpoint since Israeli-Palestinian violence began escalating in spring 2022. It was also a hotbed of Palestinian military activity in the second Palestinian uprising in the early 2000s.

On Tuesday, hundreds of Israeli troops continued to operate in the camp, seizing weapons and explosives and destroying tunnels and command posts, the army said.

Israeli media reported that the army had arrested at least 120 suspected Palestinian militants since Monday.